June 19, 2020

Ranked-Choice Voting: A Conflict

What the well-intentioned proponents of instant runoff voting aka ranked-choice voting overlook is that it conflicts with a much more urgent and critical need for transparency and auditing to counter the threats of hacking and rigging. Read Jonathan D. Simon: CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy: Election 2020 Edition. Watch KILL CHAIN: The Cyber War on American’s Elections. See Brad Friedman: "Why Ranked Choice Voting Is a Terrible Idea" at https://bradblog.com/?p=12608: "it's very difficult to count, virtually impossible for the public to oversee, requires central tabulation and computers to pull off, and candidates and voters in many places where it's been tried in the past have found that it's impossible to understand why some candidates won and others lost." And auditing, one of our best defenses against stolen elections, is a much heavier lift with ranked-choice voting. Subsequent runoff elections would be preferable to instant runoff voting. They do it in a number of states and European nations, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and France. Or there’s Approval Voting https://www.electionscience.org/library/approval-voting/. It’s simple, transparent and audit-friendly. Sadly, RCV is not.

BTW, ranked-choice voting is very well funded. “The head of Voter Choice Massachusetts, Mac D’Alessandro, told The Intercept that his organization is receiving more than $1 million in matching funds from Unite America.” Unite America is “a once obscure political organization that raised its profile earlier this year [2019] when Kathryn Murdoch became its co-chair and largest donor; she’s a daughter-in-law of Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch.” https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/?fbclid=IwAR0qCfiNuMklRlawN5uKBAsEVsQhmZSEVXhiDfoFkG1f-tfGyNCVxJaKjJA

I’m not suggesting there is anything sinister in the injection of Murdoch money apart from the fact that megadonors have way too much influence over our elections and everything else. I'm guessing that Kathryn Murdoch genuinely wants to do some good on the election front and Lawrence Lessig helped convince her that ranked-choice voting is a top priority.

I was a fan of Lessig for years. Went to a couple of his rallies for campaign finance reform in New Hampshire. Made small donations to his causes. He’s a brilliant man with an extraordinary passion for election reform. Not sure why he switched his focus from campaign finance reform to ranked-choice voting. Had he asked the leading election integrity advocates for suggestions as to what is needed most, I believe the promotion of mandatory manual audits would have come out ahead of instant runoffs. The resistance to auditing is already formidable. Adding the complexity of ranked-choice voting makes it that much harder. Again, runoff elections would be fine. Insisting on *instant* runoff voting is the problem for all the reasons stated above.